Hubbell's jaunt to and hard fall from the pinnacle of power, Vincent Foster's misery and tortured end, Hillary Clinton's metamorphosis under the spell of power--this is the stuff of melodrama. But for the last five years these people, and others like them, have been running the government of the United States. What convictions, if any, do they hold, and toward what ends have they sought power?
In the department of political ideas, Friends in High Places is wafer-thin. On several occasions Hubbell describes himself at the dawn of his career as "idealistic," but what he means by this is left unclear. The officeholders from Arkansas who flit in and out of these pages appear similarly insouciant, similarly ambitious, and similarly apolitical (if that is the right word). Even the Clintons, though clearly of a more activist hue, come across as 99 parts ambition and avarice, one part '60s radicalism.
Empty ambition is an old story in American politics. It hardly explains every alliance the Clinton administration has struck, or every policy it has advanced. But it does go some way toward explaining the malfeasance, the improprieties, and the constant stretching and bending of the rules that by now have become our national daily fare. -- Commentary, Gabriel Schoenfeld
In the genre of confessionals, Friends in High Places falls short because the issues that make Hubbell an important interesting figure in the career of the Clintons go largely unaddressed.... his book is also particularly disappointing because rather than provide the inside account it promises, it recounts incidents and conversations that are at best trivial and at worst misleading. -- The New York Times Book Review, Stephen Labaton